Today I am directing a little more energy towards my Christmas preparations – I am finalizing the list for what’s to be included in my famous Christmas Day brunch, I am preparing my 12 days of Christmas traditions, and preparing to give the house a super deep cleaning.
As I was reflecting this morning on the reason and themes of this holiday season, I came across a holiday image/quote that originates from the Bible. It says, “A Merry Heart Does Good Like Medicine” – Proverbs 17:12. I thought it was an interesting quote that peaked my interest as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Clinical Social Worker, for a number of reasons.
As I was reflecting on this quote I marveled at how scientifically accurate it is, and at the breadth of wisdom which comes from passages, ancient proverbs and stories passed on throughout the ages. This proverb was first written down by King Solomon hundreds of years BCE, yet today much of the recent literature about merriness/happiness states exactly the same thing – being merry is like its own medicine! Being merry/happy results in lower risk of heart disease and it protects against hypertension, diabetes and respiratory tract infections. People who are merry live a lot longer too.
Laura Kubzansky (who holds a PhD and is a professor at Harvard University) currently conducts research on the effects of happiness and how to increase one’s personal sense of well being in life. She reports that happiness is often sustained by qualities of: enthusiasm, optimism, hope, engagement in life and ability to face life’s stressors with emotional balance.
Other research, like that done by expert Sonja Lyubomirsky (Berkeley Professor and Stanford PhD Graduate) reports that we can become happier and increase our enthusiasm, optimism and hope by being grateful. Gratitude not only increases happiness and acts like a medicine that way, but it also on its own decreases all sorts of additional health problems (decreases depression/anxiety, improves immune system functioning, improves our sleep, decreases aches and pains, & lowers blood pressure).
In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy much of what we do (for example, developing balanced thoughts & increasing positive habits) is focused on helping individuals, couples and families increase their happiness and life satisfaction. This can be for those suffering from symptoms of mental health concerns, or others who are generally content but perhaps seeking more out of life – more purpose, more vision, more everyday love for life. Besides doing this through CBT, at Qualia we have experts like Kristina Schwalm (MSW, RSW) that teach behavioural and other interventions like Mindfulness Meditation, which help individuals preserve the present moment, regulate emotion & live more abundant lives. We also host groups, like Daring Way – which helps participants embrace a new lifestyle of “wholehearted living”, based on the work of Brene Brown and led by Qualia’s own fabulous and super intelligent Mellisa Pyne (MSW,RSW). In sum, we have devoted our life work to helping you to be “Merry & Bright”, and we take our work extremely seriously.
So, as you continue through this season and into the New Year, I wish you my most heartfelt “Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays”. May you be “Merry & Bright” now and going forward, and soak in all the rich benefits that Merriness can bring. If you need help with increasing your Merriness, know we at Qualia Counselling can do more than just give you the greeting, we can lead you along the path of generating more happiness in your life each day, through proven and reliable evidence based interventions.